Say what? Kerry loses something in translation

September 12, 2013 - 4:35 PM
Switzerland US Russia Syria

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks next to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, during a press conference before their meeting to discuss the ongoing crisis in Syria, in Geneva, Switzerland, Thursday Sept. 12, 2013. Secretary of State John Kerry and his team have opened two days of meetings with their Russian counterparts in Geneva. Kerry is hoping to come away with the outlines of a plan for securing and destroying vast stockpiles of Syrian chemical weapons. (AP Photo/Larry Downing, Pool)

GENEVA (AP) — Say what?

Something got lost in translation between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Thursday — and it served to illustrate the level of distrust in U.S.-Russian relations.

It happened when the two diplomats delivered opening statements before their high-stakes talks about how to inventory and dismantle Syria's chemical weapons.

As their joint appearance ended, Kerry asked a Russian translator to repeat the end of Lavrov's remarks, saying his headset had cut out briefly.

When it was clear that Kerry wasn't going to get an immediate retranslation, Lavrov tried to assure him that he hadn't missed anything controversial.

"It was OK, John, don't worry," Lavrov said.

"You want me to take your word for it?" Kerry said. "It's a little early for that."

At least they were still smiling.